Parents trying to adopt a child can face years of frustration, heartache and paperwork – not to mention thousands of dollars in costs. But it may soon get easier, thanks to recommendations in a new report to the Federal Government.
International adoptions have been falling since 2004 and Australia has one of the lowest rates of overseas adoptions in the world – just 129 in 2012-13, according to an intergovernmental committee set up by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to investigate hurdles to adoption.
The committee has recommended eight steps to making adoption easier, quicker and cheaper, including allowing adoptions from new countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, the United States, Poland, Kenya, Bulgaria and Latvia. Australians can already adopt from China, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, Lithuania, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand. More than 80 per cent of adopted children come from Asia.
According to the ABC, Mr Abbott created the committee last year after watching close friends wait years to adopt a second child. He has already agreed to its first recommendation – a new adoption program with South Africa – and the creation of a uniform federal system to deal with adoptions rather than the present state-based systems.
The committee found Australians wait an average five to 10 years to adopt and face costs running into the tens of thousands of dollars. Mr Abbott reportedly wants potential parents to find out within 12 months of applying for adoption whether they will be successful.
The report recommends improving support services for parents before and after adoption, and a communications strategy to address “misconceptions” about inter-country adoption. It also says there is a need for more couples to take on children with special needs, ranging from mental or learning difficulties to serious disabilities and illnesses.
Other recommendations revolve around removing child category visas from the migration program and allowing adoptees from non-Hague countries to obtain Australian citizenship in their home country. It is hoped that the recommendations will be considered and decided upon by November.